x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE shows enthusiasm for festive occasions

With Eid Al Adha and Halloween so close together this year, there are a lot of celebrations to take part in.

Originally, I planned to write this week's column from Sri Lanka. I had envisioned myself waxing eloquent from the seclusion of a stringy hammock suspended between two leafy palms on a sandy beach overlooking a Ceylonese sunset.

But fate is a cruel mistress. Far from a hammock and Sri Lanka, I'm sitting on the same ugly but ergonomic chair in front of the same equally ugly but trusty Lenovo as I do on any given day.

You see, this is the year that I decided to get into the spirit of Eid Al Adha - and for the first time in my life, make an actual "sacrifice".

Growing up as a Muslim, one gets used to answering questions about the religious significance of the sacrifice and explaining that what seems to be a pagan ritual is actually a symbolic homage paid to prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son in the name of Allah.

For the first time in almost 32 years, instead of simply paying to have an animal slaughtered at an abattoir, I experienced what it means to sacrifice something I actually cared about. Truth be told, I didn't do it willingly.

A day before I was supposed to fly to Sri Lanka with my friends, it turned out that - between me and a colleague who had a wedding to attend - only one person could go. When push comes to shove, I'm just a huge softy. Add to that the whole baggage of Eid Al Adha and its spirit of sacrifice, and I threw in the towel. Off he went and I stayed back.

I was preparing myself to spend a surly weekend sulking about the lack of Ceylon tea but it turned out that the UAE had plenty in store to pacify me.

For starters, not only was it Eid, but also Halloween. Even though the actual day isn't until tomorrow, there have already been a number of Halloween parties.

I went to the Monster Halloween Costume Party at Nasimi Beach last Friday. If nothing else, it drove home a realisation: an alarming number of otherwise decent girls use Halloween as an excuse to dress up like drastically less decent girls. What should actually be a spook fest turns into a romp through Hugh Hefner's backyard.

That's how it went down at Nasimi. Among scores of scantily clad cops and naughty nurses, I stuck out like a sore thumb. There was nothing remotely sexy about my zombie bride get-up.

Despite seeing a lot more of people than I would have liked to have seen, it was an amazing party with some very creative costumes. Nobody dressed up by accident that night, though: Nasimi promised Dh30,000 in prizes to the best-dressed revellers.

If you missed that party but still want a shot at scoring some big bucks, then there are a couple of other parties around the corner on actual All Hallow's Eve: Armani/Privé at Burj Khalifa is hosting an Angels and Demons party tomorrow, with prizes totalling Dh20,000. Domeland by Chi at Al Nasr Leisureland is hosting Spooktacular Halloween the same day. Costumed guests get the chance to win Dh30,000.